Want to know what really grinds an employer's gears? FreeMyCV.com has been
asking employers to name their biggest job application no-nos. Here are the top
1. Lengthy Covering Letters.
What we say: You're writing a covering letter, not the sequel to War and Peace, so our
advice is keep it short and relevant to the job you are applying for.
What employers say: "Relevance is key when it comes to a covering letter, and a good
application will closely reference details from the job advertised. Even a well
written covering letter can be ruined by its length, so aim for no more than
half a page of focused writing."
2. 'Over-styling' a CV.
What we say: Nothing can irritate an employer more than over ambitious use of fonts and
styling on a CV. It is important to relay the right message; adopt a sensible
tone for your CV by choosing standard fonts such as Arial or Times New Roman
and simple layouts. In the same way that you wouldn't write a work email in pink
using Comic Sans, think about how your CV will be perceived when the employer
What employers say: "I once received a CV which was mounted on cardboard, it was
cumbersome, completely irrelevant and just put me off before I'd read a word.
There are far better ways to stand out than through unusual presentation
3. Annotating a CV.
What we say: This is an oddly common occurrence for employers receiving CVs. Crossing out
old mobile numbers or addresses and scrawling new ones will make a candidate
look rushed or just plain lazy. If your details have changed, take the time to
change them on screen and print a fresh copy. Your handwritten notes won't
impress an employer.
What employers say: "One CV I was sent recently didn't have handwriting but it did use
two styles of font; one standard and one that was meant to look like
handwritten text. One example of this was next to the candidate's mobile
number- the handwritten-style text read:
'If you like what you read, give me a call!' Not only did it not add anything to the CV,
but it actually took my attention away from the skills and experience on the
page and gave me a bad feeling about the candidate."
4. Keeping your CV too Brief.
What we say: Keeping your CV concise is something that is often advised when CV writing;
anything longer than two pages could highlight that a CV has not been tailored
to the job, and may mean the employer has to work hard to find the candidate's
relevant experience. On the flip side, a CV with no elaboration, unexplained
job roles and a lack of insight into a candidate's achievements will make it
difficult for an employer to know whether the candidate is worth interviewing.
What employers say: "If a candidate doesn't want to tell me what I need to know, then
it makes the decision really easy. A pile of CVs with clear, carefully eloborated points will always win over ones
that leave me with a lot of questions. There is a fine line between being
concise and too brief; make sure you say enough."
5. Irrelevant Hobbies.
What we say: A hobbies and interests section on your CV is not required, but if done
correctly, may add value; especially if you haven't had much work experience.
If you are going to include hobbies, keep them as relevant as you can, avoiding
information like "I enjoy going clubbing with friends."
What employers say: "An
employer will never make a judgement based primarily on your hobbies, but it
doesn't hurt to be selective. Think about the things you like to do and what
impression that might give, if you can see any negative connotations
surrounding your hobby of choice; leave it out."
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